I’m not angry. I’m not filled with hatred. I am filled to the brim with a sadness that I have not felt in a very long time. Election Night and the days after have left me feeling empty, lost and fearful. Let me be clear: I wasn’t sad that my candidate lost because, honestly, she wasn’t my ideal candidate. It was about something far more profound: I felt like I had lost my idea of what I thought my country was about.
Perhaps it was the blinders finally coming off; the rose-colored glasses that I had worn for so long finally shattering and falling away. After the election, I saw America as something more than just a collection of various races, individual personalities and sexual orientations. I saw America as a place where hatred still seethes. It had been waiting patiently for the “right” time to rear its ugly head and show us that it was still there. It had never gone away even though so many of us, myself included, thought it had. I was naive.
I am not ashamed to admit that I thought things were changing with the election of the first black president. Even when I saw all the hatred spewing towards Obama and his family, I still told myself that this was true change. The world was learning to accept and embrace differences. The world was becoming a better place full of love and acceptance. While I am not 100% right, I am also not 100% wrong. Change is happening, but before all great change comes great chaos. Before the rainbow, we must have the rain, and right now it’s raining folks, but once that rain clears, we’ll see a rainbow unlike anything in the history of our country.
I will not be fearful of what the New Year will bring because I still believe that there are far more of us that are filled with love than there are those full of hate. I believe that because I see them at Standing Rock, I see them in the streets protesting against injustice. I see them speaking out against hatred. All is not lost, even though it may feel that way as January 20th looms closer and closer.
It is not easy, but I will not let fear drown me. I will not let fear be what 2017 is all about. I will not allow the hatred that still lives, and currently thrives, in our world to overwhelm those of us that are full of love. The best things I can do is to keep living the life I have been blessed with, and to do things that make me happy.
This year I decided that a Joy Jar, also known as a Gratitude Jar, is exactly what I need. I need a tangible place I can go to see all the good in my life when things seem to be at their darkest. I need a place that on New Year’s Eve of 2017, I can pick through the notes and see that even the smallest things, like playing Connect Four with my love, are what make this life so wonderful, are what make it worth living, even in the face of hatred or oppression.
This year, I encourage you to keep love alive in your community. It’s not always easy and many people believe it has to take the form of some grand gesture, but the fact remains that it can be something as simple as starting a Facebook group that includes people of the same ideals. There are so many groups that can help foster creative ideas on how to spread the message of love.
Also, engaging in local community events so that you and others can come together in love and mutual gratitude are a great way to keep love alive. Volunteering at the local food bank, or participating with your local government or animal shelter are other ways to keep love alive. Spreading the message love is easier than we actually think. Small acts, when done in the millions, can change the world.
We must all carry the flames of hope in our hearts. We must fight injustice when we see it and above all else, we must remember to be grateful for all the blessings in our lives and to remind ourselves that even with Trump in office, we can still be full of love. The fact is that love will always trump hate, and that fact is what gives me hope for 2017.